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John McLean Education. (2013) 'The Esperanza Fire Arson, Murder, and the Agony of Engine 57.' New.

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TOPIC FREQUENCY

Us 15, Raymond 7, Scott Michaels 6, Southern California 5, California 4, Washington 4, Jason Mckay 2, John 2, Sacramento 2, America 2, Dave Patrick 2, Barack Obama 2, Raymond Euler 1, Norm Walker 1, Richard Gearhart 1, Jodi Mckay 1, Vivian O'hara 1, John Maclean 1, Icp 1, Anna 1,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    John McLean  Education.  (2013) 'The Esperanza  
   Fire Arson, Murder, and the Agony of Engine 57.' New.  

    March 23, 2013
    1:30 - 2:59pm EDT  

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and facebook. on tuesday at 9:00 eastern join our live moderated discussion on twitter. ..
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>> thank you for having me. i am privileged to represent the story of "the esperanza fire." i was talking to a couple of other guys earlier. and they said, will you do your normal stand up, or will you keep a routine. and i said, i will introduce myself and then we can go on from there in the program. but without that, we are going to take a step back in time. october 26, 2006. bear with us, this is going to be a hard journey. but it will be a good one for all of us.
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i would like to have the families introduce themselves. all the family members that are here. go ahead and start it off, please no-no [inaudible conversations] >> jodi mckay, jason mckay sister. >> vivian o'hara. >> anyone else that i didn't see? okay, thank you so much. we appreciate the introductions.
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[applause] also, one other gentleman. great, would you please stand? [applause] pardon me? [inaudible question] >> thank you so much. greg has been an awesome supporter of the spirit he has done a tremendous job down there. the monument is just tremendous and overwhelming. make sure the next time frame you go down there and you are welcomed with open arms. it is a part of memory lane. without any further ado, i would like to introduce john maclean the author of "the esperanza
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fire." after the powerpoint presentation, i will have the panel come up here and we can have some questions and answers. john, thank you. [applause] >> i think you for coming out on a blizzard he day. anyone who is not prepared for an unusual weather event probably shouldn't be reading the "the esperanza fire." a blizzard in southern california is not what you would get typically. i would like to talk briefly about what it was like to do the reporting and writing of this book. i have the byline come i don't sure that with anyone.
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but it was a democratically constructed project. i did not do this alone. i i could not have done it under normal reporting circumstances. it would've been impossible. what made it possible was the cooperation of the men and women of the united states forest service who are directly involved end of the families of the fallen end of the men and women who pursued and caught raymond euler and put him on death row. it was about this time of year six years ago when richard gearhart, who is with us today, one of the captains of engine 57 on the day of the fire came up to me and had a presentation where i was peddling books.
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if you march up to the table and said are you writing a book about this fire? and i said well, no, i am not. these people in general. so i'm not going to do it. so they brought norm walker over . and norm is kind of ambled over it. he didn't march the way that richard did. and he started quietly and persistently telling me the story from the point of view of the people who are there my
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career has been made on botched investigations of buyers. there were some very good reasons for the way things turned out it was the first time that anyone was convicted of murder for setting a wild land fire. of course committee claimed. so i had breakfast the next morning with cody, here's another one of the captains. and their cooperation has been unrelenting for six years. i have asked for something and i have gotten it. i have talked to them hundreds of times.
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i submitted the text to them and we discussed it and came back with stuff. this went skin on your after year. i came out here year after year. and as a consequence, we have an authentic text that is an awful lot. as the book says, the fatal fire does not die out when the embers are cool. it burns for generations. down into the sons and daughters and grandchildren. if these things do not go away. so the collective group effort
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has produced the book and i think you thank you all for the kind things you have said to me. i hope you extend those remarks at least in thought. to all the rest of the people who gave so much to make this whatever it is. okay, the fire, as we all know, happened nearby. that is the book. this is as seen from the air to the north. it identifies the burn oversight. can see very clearly the course of the unnamed creek drainage. that way he doesn't sound is so bland and forgotten.
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it happened in the foothills and the fatal event occurred on the fire blew up in this part of the drainage. this is a total aerial view looking down at the same scene. the inset is a photograph of an individual that was here today pointing to the spot where the ignition device was placed or tossed about 12 feet off the roadway by raymond. as you can see, it is almost the perfect place to start a fire. there is a slope to carry it, even a little gully so they could go faster.
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the admission came at the end of a summer the summer long series of buyers in which the arsonist became increasingly affected at setting fires. this is a map the map that is in the book showing relative places of the origin of the fire. then the fatality sites. the engines from the hell are recalled. in my kind of grumbled about it and said this is what they encountered. the fire was called in at that time. by the time they got down the hill, as you can see, things had
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progressed to a degree that you have a graph mark on the hills. now, let's see if i can get this to work. this is a recording. as you can see. >> you don't really understand. it doesn't take a wind to cause this kind of ignition.
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this is a map you're going to see several times. but the units from here wound up at three different places on twin pines ridge. we'll have a closer look at it. they wound up at the east end of the past to give you an idea of the train. the first place that anybody dropped off was this powerhouse defended by engine 52. this is a post-fire photograph. at the time, this move was not complete. and there was a good safe distance from the house. and you will see that.
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a lot has been done. there is a cleared area here. you have a nice large driveway. it is not a black place. these are the engine 52 people. as you can see them standing in front of the fire, creating a moat around the engine. this is the fire as it passes by. guys will be guys.
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now, to me, that is a lot of fire. but that is what it is like when you are fighting fire in southern california. normally you would not need to be there. but structure protection is part of the game. by the time this happened, it is certain that the firefighters who had gone down had saved one life. they probably had saved for last. the first place if they got too was an aluminum trailer occupied by a 70 sixer woman who did not want to leave. she had a car in the middle of the dinner. she didn't want to leave the parent. and she didn't want to go. other people showed up and tried to talk her out of it. a guy from the water company knew her and how to help her.
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about 15 minutes later, the place was turned to liquid aluminum. and she made it back afterwards. she was filmed by a tv crew going through the debris of what had been her home for a long time. and she wanted to rebuild this and encouraging her. the only thing that was left with was a statue of saint jude. her house was able hopeless cause. there was nothing anybody could do. he saved her life. there were three people. the water company guy got them going. they ran out the wrong way. they went out past the house with a huge rv with an suv behind it.
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they are lumbering up this road. if you get up there, you're going to get trapped. and they said, well you can't turn this thing around. there are four people. and people say, why were they there or not frankly, that is the first thought that i had and that many people have when they go to that. why is anybody fighting this fire down there. that is one of the biggest reasons because there were people who didn't have telephones were enough common sense. that is the way you do it.
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evacuate early. and firefighters are responsible for going down there. river side sheriff's office would not do it. on a normal day, they would have saved the octagon, but this was not a normal day. it happens too, sometimes.
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like hearing the amount of traffic as they pointed icp. there is a lot going on from a lot of different people. so they go to the octagon house come engine 52, they are talking to engine 57. they say, we have a good spot. they put engines at the driveway. it had been inspected to make it
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defensible. meanwhile, the next action is that the fire is moving like this. a lot of animal life around. this is not a good situation. it can cause panic and have it suddenly have horses running through. horses panicked with fire. there is some discussion about what to do about them. and richard saw that the corral they were in is essentially a
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safety zone for the horses. if you take a look behind us, you see all kinds of junk. and that stuff can blow up and explode, they came down late in the game. this is from the bottom from the north side looking up they felt
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fine. but this isn't nascar. and once they start heading for the double wide, they began to get worried. some of them were excited, kids in the back of the cab, they say no, we have a fire. and all of the stuff that they say. and the captain and some of the others -- the people who have
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had a little bit more experience, they are thinking that this is going to get serious. and it did. the first house that they got to was the woman who was away at the time. the house was destroyed by the fire. then they got back to the compound and began to do triage. getting things move away so they wouldn't catch fire. this is what was coming. immediately they would do a burnout. and they would run us into the main fire. this is one of the most combustible places on the planet. and they couldn't get this
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started. and you will see what was left of the original attempt. and here is the guy trying to start it. it should take off, but it doesn't. eventually they get the fire started along and here. here it is. here is their fire. okay. here we go. okay. sometimes this works. sometimes it doesn't. just one second.
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so finally it takes off. and it is going to the main fire. it is sucked into the main fire. by the time it gets there, the two fires have burned the available fuel and it goes way up. and then there is nothing left for it to burn. this is the original backfire. which never got going. talk about unpredictable events. you'd always predicted if you started a fire in southern california, you would have a good time. but that isn't always the case. now, we go back to the map. this is where the backfire was set. richard?
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>> okay. they thought that they were having a great time and had done a good job and richard was about to have time to give compliments. the horses were okay, the docs are okay. no animals were injured in this. and he felt the blast coming up from here. suddenly, everything changed. the embers turned into fire and the whole thing was blowing again on them. they didn't know quite why it was doing now. but it created a very dangerous situation. so they called for everyone to come back to the engines for accountability. so that they knew where other people were. so you are breathing in ash and brick at this point. it is hot and dark.
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and you need to find out where your people are. they had trouble finding everybody. there is stuff on the radio. calls made by engine 57. very pretty. it is a little chaotic, it's in the book. i'm not going to try to reproduce it because it is just snatches of stuff. but obviously things are happening that the people can't do anything about because they have their own problems right there. so the worst of the fire passes. the fire at the double wide. the engines and the pumper wound up here because this was part of half the fire. this is bob.
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when he had deposited the three engines there, he left them and said i have to go check on things down the road. he didn't know if there was an engine down there. he drove down and had a conversation with the captain that lasted about five minutes. in which they discuss the situation that engine 57 was in. i spent an entire chapter in the book talking about the discussion. it is one of the touchiest things that happened on the fire. there has been a lot of grief about it. i spent more effort on that chapter, i think, than i did on anything else. i have talked to the people who comment about what he said. talked to the people who are here today. those who talked directly after this and have challenged his
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accountability. in chapter seven, it is solid. it isn't the only time that it is mentioned in the book. there is an appraisal farther on in their are some remarks about him earlier. i got an e-mail from bob after i had him read the book. got him one of the first copies. and he said it is fine with me. i accept what you have written. i did not accept that. i did not expect it. it's not the portrait you would want written review. but it's as close as i can get to the truth. it is not conclusive. sometimes the truth is not conclusive that you can apprehend. the only two people who know
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about this, and mark is no longer with us, and if you talk to both of them, i am not sure how close you could get because there was a misunderstanding and miscommunication. people thought that they were being understood when they were not being understood. there was history going on. but chapter seven is as close as i think anybody will get to it. these guys -- that is one of the things that we went with over and over. this is where it happened. standing in front of the garage, at the octagon. he drew him away from the crew, which is important. they discussed whether he should be there and he presumably explained why he was there and he laughed. there is a lot more to it than that, but i'm not going to try to summarize years of work in a
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couple of sentences. this is the octagon house before the fire. as you can see, it is built to withstand fire. it is made of proper materials. it has a tiled roof and there is space around it. this is the garage below. it was built with fire in mind. fire is inevitable. the passage of fire is inevitable. he did not plan on what happened. because nobody did. all right, this is the area. as seen from the house a half-mile away. as you can see by now, it is daylight. it is somewhere between 710 and
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715, 720 in the morning. dave i came at 7:07 a.m. you can see that this is a discrete event. a bill of fire, a cylinder of fire. it is not what you think of when you think of a big massive fire front were slowly progressing fire. it is its own thing. we will get this won't work. one moment. okay. there we go. i am sorry.
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there might be gremlins that are preventing this. one more time and then we will quit. all right, all right, i'm not going to show it to you. well, what are you missing. well, are you missing a lot? well, you are. because it is the event itself. i am not making work. but what you see is this thing that is someone else. a lot of blank space. it is confined and it is low. it is not up at 60,000 feet. it is a cylinder that is moving
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along. the final words are it is really boiling over there. that comes after one of the firefighters walks over and says, i think i just heard a scream. of course, that is precisely what happened. this is a map from the investigation that shows the presumed past of engine 57. as you can see, jeff mcclain and jason mckay, there are no travel packs. they are in the direct line and probably stood within a couple of steps. the theory, and it's not a bad one, is that the other three were behind or near the octagon
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house itself and were protected. because all three of them have fairly likely travel paths. two of them lived for a time after the fire. this was probably on the side and probably went around up front. there is said to be a deer trail and blue marks that show this. there is a propane tank right about here. and it is in the book and it says that there was rumor of a boot mark could not be confirmed. and the day before yesterday, the photograph was taken. so either they jumped up on top
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of the propane tank, probably, trying to get away from the fire of an escape attempt that failed. this individual is found by the main part of the road below the driveway. mark was found here. after the fire had passed by, richard tried to walk up and was driven back by the heat and the flames. finally, he made it up the driveway and he saw he believed to be the bodies of one of the firefighters and reported that. it was a dramatic fashion.
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at that point, he raised his right hand. the captain gave a description of what had happened and said let's get some help up here. this is what it is, he was terribly burned. but he lived on for quite some time. if you go around that corner as the captain did, you come upon the living body of the captain. they immediately got help up there. they got oxygen into him. he was able to say a few words initially. but then you have the problem of but then are you going to put them on the big engines and get them out of their? it would probably be fatal.
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these guys are very badly burned. what about a helicopter? a helicopter was in the sky and captain said no, we can't get it in there, there's too much snow. they began to package these guys and get them ready so that they could be moved. the prospects of effective rescue are dim at this point. until the smoke clears. there was a helicopter that was sent to see if they could help by making water drops. and they circled this area. see what you can do about structure protection, not knowing at this time how serious the situation was. they flew around the least three
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times, and suddenly the smoke cleared and a helicopter landed here and dropped off its it's true that rushed around to see what was going on. two of the other three men had been found. and they had been found expired. the problem was getting the two guys out that were injured. it would have taken quite a while to convert the small helicopter. that pilot pulled back up and he is the one who took this photograph and called to a couple of his friends, dave patrick being one of them who is here today. coming into effect the rescue. dave patrick landed in the skidmarks of the smaller helicopter. and you can see it is almost
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onto the voters of this helicopter. so he comes in and pick them up. as you can see, the octagon is still a ring of fire. engines are starting to show up. the first engine, one of the crewmembers who is here today who had a stunning experience, which is in the book, they were able to get both men onto helicopters and get them out of there. walker has described as is vietnam like and heroic. i tried that out and he said no, we do that every day. he sent me some pictures, including a picture of him.
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and he looks like he does it every day. but this is heroic. it did take something extra to put a helicopter down under those circumstances. this was after the rescue. ooh who were there, trying to figure out what had gone wrong. so there are some interesting things. chris's mother is with us. that is him in the picture. norm and chris are here. anna is in sacramento and she didn't make it, unfortunately. but that is the crew.
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what is very interesting about the forensic evidence is that there are two torches on the ground next to engine 57 that have been kept in a compartment. the crew was preparing to do a burnout and they were not very far along with it. it is conceivable that explosions occurred. one reason i don't believe that that occurred is that that is one and you have to unscrew the big caps and turn around. an operation that requires a human hand. the cap on this one has not been taken off.
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they are preparing to do a burnout. in fact, most of the preparation work was done at the pool. they had placed a portable pump her into the pool. and they had run a hose and a line out from it and headlines around both side of the octagon in preparation for defending it. i was up there a day before yesterday and you can still see the marks in the concrete were the rubber melted into the concrete. it looks like shed snakeskin. the two injured firefighters did not make it. there was an extraordinary outpouring of work and compassion and attention that
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was handled by a whole separate command troop crew. and had wound up at the memorial service near hemant in which there was a spontaneous view. i love the photographs. you need people like that in your life. you need some people like that. this thing hit hard. people took it in. they did not run away from this thing. this is one of the families. but things do change and time does pass. this is the new engine 57.
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i drove on another mylan said, that is the phoenix rising from the flames. life goes on. and i went back and took a photograph of it. >> the fire was the first time in history the united states forest service engine crew had been wiped out by a fire. the fire crew in the 1970s in a spanish fire that was the first one to be wiped out. unless you regard arson is a natural event, it was not a natural event. it is certainly a common event in southern california. the photograph that we saw
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earlier, this is the ignition device. it was used to start a trend here. a bundle of state -- stick that matches held together by a blue green rubber band. beginning on may 16, 2006. he set three fires close together that burned barely a quarter of an acre altogether. but then the arson squad was called out and the assistant prosecutor got a call. they knew that this would be the beginning of a series rather than a single event fires. once this fire was identified,
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people were dead, it became a murder investigation. the entire criminal investigation division, or criminal homicide unit, they were called out. one of the detectives went to the command post at the foot of the twin pines ridge. a safe distance away from the fire. the morning of the fire. there was no way for them to get to the fire. that was very frustrating. these are homicide detectives. they wanted to see a fire. there was too much smoke and too many flames. and the arson squad had been investigating this and have put up cameras around the pass. four days earlier, the camera caught a car going into this, coming out six minutes later and a few minutes later, a plume of
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smoke went up. a license plate of the car were seen, but they didn't get the plates of the driver. scott michaels sent in that license plate along with others that had been spotted. when they got back the information, it was registered to a salvage shot. the car had been sold somebody named ray who worked in automotive shop somewhere else and was fired for stealing. then they went to the other place and found the ford taurus which have an occupant that wasn't the guy. they could explain himself. then they get a phone call through the gas station and the guy said the cops are looking at your car.
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and so they come over. scott michaels wound up that morning knocking on the door. wondering what was going to happen. when he opened the door, scott michaels took a look and he had his sleeves rolled up like this. it was all dark and kind of ugly except there was a poster on the wall of a skeleton with flames coming out of its head. something with the insane clown posse and all up and down his arms are these tattoos of flames and schools in all of this junk. full sleeve tattoos. michael's looked at him and said, this is my guy. this is the guy who did it. he had a spiritual experience as a consequence.
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and he had a spiritual experience while it was happening. he felt the presence of the firefighters guiding him and telling him his right. things got very route. his superiors didn't believe him. they said that the fire happened four days earlier, we have lots of leads, we need to work on now. we have suspects, drop it. but they let him be the chief guide. one of the things he did was get a dna sample. so he never made it up to the octagon house until i took in their four years later. it took a long time for me to get in touch with him. he met greg and greg was very open and generous in sharing his place with us and allowing two let us walk and bring back a lot
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of memories. after a while, scott looked out and became very quiet. which is not his usual mode. as we are driving out after we left, i asked him what he thought about it. and he said that he understood it now. there is a direct line from that house down to the apartment. there is nothing obstructing it. so he had a kind of completion of his spiritual experience, which was very real to him. in riverside county he had a brilliant tile. they put together an incredible case. if it hadn't been for the jurors
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that there was a story to tell. it is all connected, here are the connections, this is how they did it. they did it like a story. if that hadn't been done and had been fragmented, they would have lost. because there was no dna. scott michaels after being dissed by his peers was in a meeting a couple days after the fire trying to hide in a corner. many were mad at each other because the weeds were evaporating. he gets a call. and he said i have to talk to you. so he goes outside and it is a person from the crime lab. so we have this on fire in the
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pass in june. scott said, remember how you just said that. i'm going to put you on hold. i'm going to tell you to say those same words. so we walk into the meeting, everybody is screaming at each other, fbi is there, atf. the sheriff's office of mayor. the d.a. and everybody is unhappy. and he says, okay, he puts a cell phone in the middle of the table and says they are. and as soon as she said it, everybody knew that raymond was their guy and he was in handcuffs by that night. six days after the fire. that is unheard of in an arson investigation. the arsonist is long gone. how are you going to catch them? it's dark, it's night, there's no cameras or nothing. these are the guys who did it and put it all together.
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and here are the captains who testified. i like this picture. and look at chris. the sun is right in his face. i should've had everybody move into the shade. walker is in the background and i should've had him in it as well and i forgot to do that. this is a great metaphor. here he is in the background and he came to the fire afterwards. always there someone in the background. this is raymond squeeze. this is where they lived at
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apartments, very nice blue collar gated community. she said that he was there with their child. diamond bell. as in diamonds strike matches. but she couldn't prove it because she wasn't there. he had plenty of time to do it. and he was at the casino gambling at 1:00 o'clock in the morning. if you ever need an alibi at any criminal case, don't say you are at a casino when you were not. there are more surveillance cameras in a casino then there are the united states pentagon. hundreds of hours were spent by
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personal trying to find a photograph of him where he said he was. they look for one frame with raymond in it. then he could beat the charge. but instead, there is surveillance footage of someone known as the stranger. at a shell station at the appropriate time, about 2:00 o'clock in the morning. a figure walks back and forth. and you only get a frame of about 15 seconds. and he talks to a guy who is a gas delivery man with one of the big trucks and gives us very detailed account of what is going on. as a fireman, he really knows what he's talking about. and he says it's acting just like i thought it would. it's doing just what i thought it would.
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there they are. that is a big figure. that is the gas station guy. what explains the presence of the sky at 2:00 o'clock in the morning? what is he doing there? the gas station attendant driver testified at the trial and identified him as the person. there was another shot taken of the face of the stranger. and there was another surveillance photograph taken. he was charged with a lot of fires. a couple of fires it is not charged with doing this session of the trial. once guilt is decided upon, you have a separate hearing to
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decide whether he is going to have the death penalty. the rules are different. the date of the firemen went to work, there was a fire set about 7:30 a.m. a small one. then raymond got off work and this happened about 4:30 a.m. and he went to a 7-eleven where you can see him playing games with this blonde. and there was a fire set seven minutes after that. in between these two events, raymond was at work as a crease monkey at an auto shop where they had cnn on all day long, according to testimony. with nothing on but the fire.
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nothing on but how the firefighters are dead. just so you know what you're dealing with. that was as one expression of humanity in the whole course of the trial. when his family said, we love you, raymond, as he was being let out. he and i are in touch. i have a thick file of our correspondents. he is polite and respectful and i try to do the same. but i told him in the first letter that i wrote to him that i would not lie to him. but i believe that the jury had acted appropriately in passing the sentence both of guilty and in terms of calling for a death penalty. and that i was going to ask him questions about these fires. he will not answer questions by witnesses placed them there. because he has an automatic appeal. he is going to wait a long time
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for the automatic appeal. he will probably not be executed. there are 724 people on death row in southern california and last november proposition 34 to retain the death penalty was passed by 6% of the margin. which is an extreme margin. there are no executions scheduled for 2013 in california. none in 2014 in california. and over a dozen in texas. so it probably won't happen here. i think you will see me in may. i will ask him again about these fires. i do not expect him to confess this to me. it would be great if he would. but he has to address these other ones. he is attempting to have a spiritual life. he is trying to become a roman catholic.
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okay. that means that he must speak to another human being. everything evil that he ever did. how is that going, raymond? and this was the fifth anniversary. an important mark. a lot of time has passed. ..
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thank you very much. [applause] [applause] >> well, -- [inaudible] at this time, i'd like to call up -- first of all, let's give a round of applause to those involved in the incident that were here in the audience, the helicopters and the personnel. let's give them a round of applause, please. [applause] thank you so much. i'd like to call up right now four of the guys who were there,
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and at the time and ann couldn't be here. she's on sacramento in details. norm walker. norm? [applause] richard gear heart, captain 51, grand ranger station. [applause] , chris fog l captain 52. ranger station. [applause] freddie ease pan -- [applause] norm, do you have a few words you want to open with? norm is going give a few opening remarkings. >> i just asked for a couple of minutes to talk about some of the sensitive things that john points out in his book, and you have to remember there was three investigations and now a book about the fire.
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and the three investigations were done by different agencies for different reasons. and so they don't dove tail very well. at the beginning with my colleagues were angry about that. but i've soft end my position because for instance oig, the office of the inspector general those are special agencies, when they interview you, they have the soul purpose of figuring out whether we everybody who was associated with that fire did anything criminal, and if they found that we did, broke the cfr or whatever, we could then be held criminally liable. they had to do this by law. they continue have -- don't have a choice. their report is short, and but essentially it's these folks did
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nothing criminal. that's what we wanted to hear. osh arranges is hard to talk about with a straight face. it it's an industrial investigate group. industrial safety, and they tried very hard to do some homework, but they are not wildland fire investigators. and so they had their reasons that they needed to investigate the fire, and their report, you can read it on the web was protested by the forest service, thankfully, excuse me, because i don't think california fire or the wild fire would be able to fight the fire if we took the rights. so the forest service protested that, got a hearing and got some of that stuff changed. that was great. the factual report, which many people think isn't factual, was
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done bay large group of california fire service. the problem was they were expected to produce lessons learned in a timely manner. the problem, as john talked about, is it's hard to do an exhaustive investigation and report on it accurately in a short period of time. this is very complex. a lot of pieces. and the other thing, and perhaps what i'd like to leave you with is that it's well known by investigators, lawyers, et. cetera you can put two people on a corner and stage an automobile accident, put them next to each other, stage the accident, and then asked them to write down what happened or interview them. they will come up with two different stories that perhaps don't even resemble one
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another. so each one of us who was at the different position at different times during the incident has a piece of the puzzle. we all remember our little part of it. these guys were together, they were separated. when they went to the octagon house they did different thing. when i got them i asked them to do different tasks. they were doing those things. everything that they looked at was a little different, then as human beings, everybody caught our eye differently depending on what we were interested in. so when we were interviewed, we told a little bit different story. we were all there. we have a piece of it. we told a little bit different story. some of those things we have yet to agree on but as friends, we agree it's okay to disagree
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because we saw it differently. and so that is part of the reason why all of these investigations say a little bit different things. i think john handled his thing very well. and sin there are no survivors, we're not going know the answers, 100%, not any one of us knows 100% of the truth, but what john did with his book is took the time. because he was not influenced by the politics of the fire agencies or whatnot. he was not under pressure to produce a document quickly, and so he took six years. i believe this book to be the best conglomeration of all of our stories, and it presents the most truth that we're ever going have on this incident.
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thank you. [applause] >> thank you, norm. at this time, we will open it up for questions for each of the gentlemen up here. keep your questions to the particular pertinent and situation at the incident. we're not going deviate as far as the case oiler or anything else. if you have any questions or any individual up here, raise your hand, yell out, and we'll ask the questions. >> not hearing any questions. in the back? >> yeah. i was going ask if -- [inaudible] norm and i had the discussion, and as both of us being firefighters, different part and different entities, one of the questions i had -- i guess -- i
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realize arson being the hardest crime to prove in the history of it, one of the things i guess bothered me about this is -- i hate to stir it up for people. i'm not looking for blame or anything. t one of the things that came out of the incident was and john touched on it, that the investigation of fires in the past started back in may or before. there was a gathering of evidence, there was a lot of things that took place prior to the fatal fire. i guess as another firefighter myself looking at this saying, you know, you always wish they could have concluded that a little bit earlier, and i'm just wondering if these people are involved, people in the fire felt that same way or looked at it and said if only it could have been put together before the fire was started. if there's any comments toward that?
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>> so you any comments? i'm not sure as far as -- maybeo john can an that as well. all the interviews he did. >> i want to take a shot at it. it was not the areson is now a great big thing. it was not the thing. there were small news report about the fires because they weren't very big. there was in structure damage to speak of. one outbuilding was burned. the biggest fire is 1500 acres. which is burned. but burned burned in chap real with no account. the investigation process that began on the 16th of may was meticulous but concise. they could collect the evidence, put it in a box with cotton. photograph it there was 26 photographs introduced at the file. they would store it. it did not going the crime lab. it had no priority. it normally takes weeks if not
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months to get a dna check on evidence that has priority. the investigative process that was started after the fire was out of this world. the crime lab worked 24/7 through a weekend to do what they did. canyon fire four dais before where they did have these pole cameras taking photograph. that d.a. could not be downloaded in daylight. because you don't want to giveaway the position of the camera to people who are driving by. they would download it at night and it got complicated. there was some criticism they were a little slow four days later, they had the list of license numbers and it wasn't; just the ford or torr russ, it's the key one. it looks simple now, it wasn't
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simple thing. they had all of them checked out. that's where there -- as i said there's been a little criticism of that. canyon fire didn't burn much. it didn't have high priority. once it got priority it went tos super speed. hyper speed, it was an act of< extreme observation acuity to find the device. the chief areson investigators on the scene had walked by the device time after time and hadn't spotted it. what they do is put out a grid. you go over a friday like archeologist digging for stuff. they had it. and they collected it and took it to the crime lab, then they did their three-days of grid
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search. this is a low agonizing process. everyone feels what you have talked about. why in god's name couldn't they caught him before. his family could have ratted him out. mckay said it over and over again at every venue she gets from the beginning, if you know someone who is eting fires, if they are near and dear to you,? stop it before it becomes something like this. that's the real break down. they knew he was setting fires. i'm sure his siblings had more than an ink ling.4 you should study the family. at one point, his defense lawyer accused his sister of setting the "the esperanza fire." that's the kind of thing he's in. that's the failure, the huge failure people who let behavior
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like this continue when they could have stopped it. if scott michaels hadn't gotten a dna sample when he first took him in for an integration, an interview, it wasn't an integration. he wasn't charged. if they hadn't gotten the dna sample they might never get it. he gave it voluntarily. you have to give it voluntarily. he dropped the first two. he had no dna record in the state record. they didn't introduce that thing with the automatic felony until 2009, i think it was. it was after the "the esperanza fire." the dna wasn't anywhere. how would they have gotten the guy? they wouldn't have gotten him on the "the esperanza fire" alone. the book points it out. there was two people on the jury who didn't think he had done it. yes, yes, everybody feel that.
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if you want to blame somebody, blowing the whistle earlier. listen to bonnie when he says this. [applause] >> as far as the rest of us, i think i can speak for us, it doesn't matter how they are set for us, it's another ignition source. we're not doing anything different. in fact the midas canyon fire theyerer to i was the first engine on scene on that. mark was probably the second. we walked the fire line together, you know, i reminded him, he was in front of me, i said for twenty years you've been outwalking me. he held the barbed wire fence for me to cross. we stood there and talked about this probably was an arson fire. the winds are coming, i wonder if he'll get a good one on the next one. that was four days later.
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>> i just wanted to add that post ease per what happened is an arkansas southern investigative task force which has been very active. that is one of the benefits that came out offire dr "the esperanza fire" very organized and deliberate task force. we belief they are doing good things and maybe next time belle able to catch them -- we'll be able to catch them before. [applause] >> that answer your question, chris? >> any other questions, folks? yes? >> the women involved admitted
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that they knew he was setting fires have they been charged as an police or anything -- accomplice or anything like that? crystal was gave that account> her he was setting fires.? his arrest and it was tricky><6 wasn't charged with murder.??': he was charged with setting a? couple of arson fires. the detectives knew that as soo< up.'4 which is what happened. they had one shot, and scott michaels and a detective by did the interview and did a brilliant job. took their time moving through it real slow. once she starts to break down, she was there with the mother. you get the mother away from
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her. she probably lied to her mother. now she has to change the story and tell the truth and make people feel comfortable. and she's crying. it's hard to cry and lie at the same time as the cops say. she's getting sick of talking to the same guy.6 you trade-off and get the other guy. i didn't hear what you said before. can you make it clear to me? you get all of this on tape. the next day he's charged with murder and she goes to trial, they are trying to drag it out of her. so i don't remember saying that7 did you read the transcript, please. so it's not anything by perjury with? she got in a lot of trouble with the family. she said too much, that proved to be the thing that triggered it for the jury. it wasn't the dna, from a
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different fire. but the two holdouts finally collapsed when they dragged in the transcript and there it is in the transcript she has to admit it. did he tell you what he was using for an ignition device? cigarette and a match. is that what he did? cigarette an a match. it's in in in the transcript. that got the guilty verdict.? you might have had a hung jury. it hung bay threat. it's an interesting story of what happened after wards to other people. his cousin testified during the trial and told her mother she was going testify because she wanted reward money. there was a half million in that came up when she testified she said they had gone off on pitbulls back from the impound and threatened to burn them out. big phrase. and she went to the police about that.
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she did. a little late but she did. so the deafen lawyers are trying to tear it apart. didn't you tell your mother i was doing it for the money? i said it as a joke. she wound up with $50,000 in money. a year and a half ago or whatever it is. they tried to protect her. okay. the supervisors looked at her claim, asked the prosecutors, was it an important part of the case, they said, yeah, it was. it wasn't thing only thing that happened. it was important. the river side county supervisor pledged $100,000 and said we're going give her $50 ,000 and they did. >> okay. dpact -- exactly. any other questions, folks?
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seeing none. thank you for your time. let's give everybody a round of applause that was involved in this. [applause] thank you, gentleman. you're watching booktv, on c-span2. 48 hours of non-fiction authors and books every weekend. >> we're at the annual conservative political action conference in washington, d.c., we are here marge i are ross. based here in washington booktv viewers may recognize her who is with us at book expo america last year for a long conversation about publishing. how are so you? great happy to be here. >>let talk about a couple of books so you coming up in the spring season. former lieutenant governor, "beating obamacare." it's a terrific book. the first best seller of 2013.
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we are excited about that. we released this book as an original trade paper back. we want to make it an assessable hand handbook, a consumers guide to what people can expect. a lot of people talked about what was going to happen with obamacare, actually starting to come to effect. now it's here and we have to live and deal it. betsy an expert in this area. she's former lieutenant governor of new york, one of the few people who read the entire bill, and she goes through in a very common sense, easy to understand, i was impressed when i remember reading man script. it was easy to understand explanation of what is actually in the bill, what the different laws are, what the rule are, what you can expect, what the different exchanges are. how it's affecting people in the paycheck and the withholding their insurance coverage they get at the job.
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it's a very practical guide for consumers to find out what they're facing. >> it's regardless of a conservative or liberal? >> actually, it is. she's not a fan of the law, but she walks you through in a practical sort of consumery what. what do you need to do to and a half gait this? >> next book here. david, "obama -- [inaudible] >> this is the newest book out. as you can see, it's rather apop lip tick. that's the message here. a lot of books have come out in the past few months have talked about america at the cross roads or america at the point where we have a big decision to make. david, who is a terrific writer and spokesperson basically said we have crossed that point. it is too late to avoid some of the disasters that we're facing. now we have to buckle down and figure out how to get through.
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>> in the last book you have is holding a gally here. >> yeah. >> this book is not even yet out. it's the next big book coming in april. it's called "ultimate obama survival guide "this is a terrific read. it's very fun. it's also very practice candle. the first part of the book tells us all the terrible things we're facing around second term of barack obama. the second half of the book is a very practical survival guide. everything from how to buy gold coins to how to stock your house with food and water, how to buy a gun an what ammunition to stock up on. he's covered all the bases in a very, very entertaining way, and you'll be scared, amused, and prepared. >> i couldn't help but notice all three of these deal with obama's second term. there's kind of an understanding
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for a conservative it's something they're going have to live through. so how did you go about acquiring these books in such a short period of time? you weren't aware of who would inthe election. >> that's a terrific question. we struggled and talk abouted a lot in the second half of last year. it's something that all current events publishers have to deal with, but particularly for -- we focus on only conservative political books, that's our niche and we know every four years it's going an interesting challenge to try to publish in to the beginning of a new presidential term. especially when you don't know. you never do when it's going the incumbent or someone new. in cases it's going someone new no what matter what. we tried to sign up books that were very practical, and talking about what people needed to do to survive and thrive. kind of no matter who was in
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charge. then we knew that one the election was over, we would pivot one way or the other in the positioning of the book or the tightings of the book or the subtitling of the book. depending on who won. we would have had books that said we're in a mess, i have a chance of getting out. we have a lot of to work to do. here's what we need to do. and the pivot for barack obama winning while we're in a mess and it's only get worse from here. >> a little publishing insight here. thank you. >> thank you very much. nice to see you. >> something that is so right, so dear, so necessary so you to get in trouble. before we got in any trouble as students and young people. we studied. we didn't just wake up and said we're going go and sit in.
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we didn't just dream one day we're going come to washington and go on a freedom ride we were going to march on washington as we in 1963, we were going march as we did in 1965. with e studied. we prepared ourself. >> this is black power they intimidated so many people. white people in particular by using that phrase. black power. when they use the word or phrase black power it made many think that it meant destruction. destroying america. it wasn't anything about destroying america. it was about rebuilding america. and having america to have a new paradigm in term how we can truly be each and every one of does the pledge when we were going elementary school and junior high school about the land of the free, home of the brave. >> congressman john lewis
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discuss their personal experiences during the civil rights movement. live from the virginia test festival of the book tonight at k58 eastern. part of booktv this weekend on c-span2. here's a look at books being published this week. and youngest siblings a hollywood agent in "brothers emanuel "a memoir of an american family. in the angry days roosevelt, lindberg, and america's fight over world war ii recounting the political battle between american isolationist and interventionist during world war ii. jeff chu articles editor for fast company magazine present the thoughts on religious and gay rights.